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Disclaimer: This post discusses my personal outlook on not giving up things like hobbies, positives goals, new ideas, etc. Please seek help from a professional if you need help quitting an addiction or an abusive situation.
By the end of my last lesson, I was feeling discouraged as my progress feels very slow. On the drive to drop Michael (my teacher) off, I asked him if he ever thought I would give up. He didn’t hesitate to answer with “Yes”. He also went on to say that I get an A in persistence and dedication. For the record, Michael has never suggested that I quit and believes in my ability to correct my issues.
Should I give up because I am slow? It would be easy to quit. I could give all the usual excuses quitters give like “It was too hard”, “it just wasn’t meant to be”, “I didn’t have enough time”, or “I was too old to really learn it”. A few family members and friends would be disappointed, but life would go on. I’d stop going to organ concerts. My adventure into learning the pipe organ would be reduced to a small chapter of my life.
September 2013 marks four years of taking organ lessons. Four years of lessons and practice sounds like plenty of time, doesn’t? What’s taking me so long? When I first started many hours were spent on learning to play the pedals. Then there was time needed to develop the coordination to play the manuals (keyboards) and pedals at the same time. My keyboard skills were also rusty as it had been about 20 years since taking piano lessons. Even now, it still takes me many months to learn to play a new hymn correctly. I have worked on Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 553) by probably not Bach for over 2 years. I have practiced sections of this piece thousands of times incorrectly without realizing it or thinking I had it fixed (as mentioned in my last post, I need to become a better listener).
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell presents the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something. I have not read this book and there is also debate over the 10,000 hours rule. But for now, let’s go with it. On average I practice about 5 hours a week. And let’s say I practice 48 weeks of the year which excludes vacation time, illness, etc. This would put me at only 960 total hours of organ practice since I began.
Now you may be wondering, that’s nice, but what does this have to do with you? Have you ever wanted to quit something? Have you ever felt like it was just not worth the trouble? Have you ever quit because someone else thought you should? The list of my reasons can be modified for most dreams, hobbies, business, goals, etc.
What reasons can you add to this list?
A year ago I set a goal to practice ten hours in a week. This week, for the first time ever, I am on track to reach this goal. I have failed at the same goal for more than 52 weeks in a row! I admit that most weeks I haven’t really tried after I realized it was more of a challenge than I anticipated.
I was able to practice for 5 hours between Saturday and Sunday giving me hope that I can actually do it. Part of completing a goal is actually believing that you can do it! I had felt discouraged initially when I didn’t reach the goal. For many weeks, I hoped to be at 10 hours by the end of the week, without planning for the time in advance. I said I would plan in advance but never followed through with the planning.
I also have an organ lesson coming up on Saturday. It’s been 9 weeks since my last lesson and I want to finish strong and play the best I can at my lesson. Prior to other lessons, the week leading up to my lesson did not contain much practicing which impacted my performance at the lesson.
What goals do you need to finish? The Time Management Ninja blog has great information and tips on completing goals. I recommend 10 Questions You Must Answer About Your Goals if you need some motivation to get started.